The European Union is struggling to wean itself off Russian natural gas supplies because of the deep dependence of so many of its member states on this irreplaceable resource from Moscow.
Some countries are trying to accelerate their plans to transition to clean energy or seek alternative suppliers, but experts agree that for the entire bloc, a complete abandonment of Russian gas is not a likely reality. . One country, Hungary, is even seeking to strengthen the relationship with its gas supplier.
Among EU countries, there are large gaps between the countries that import the most Russian gas in quantity and those that are most dependent on the Russian gas they import – and for a variety of reasons, The Hill has decided to examine both groups.
These are the largest importers of Russian gas from the EU in 2021, according to the US Energy Information Agency (EIA).
Germany: 1.7 trillion cubic feet
Italy: 0.92 trillion cubic feet
France: 0.62 trillion cubic feet
Poland: 0.37 trillion cubic feet
They are the largest importers of Russian gas from the EU in 2020, measured as an overall percentage of Russian gas exports, the EIA reported.
As engines of the continent’s overall economy, Germany, Italy and France are the biggest European buyers of Russian gas, which they use not only to produce electricity and heat, but also to feed their manufacturing industries.
For this reason, German Finance Minister Christian Lindner claimed on Monday that a full-scale energy embargo would cause Germany more pain than Russia. And on Tuesday, the EU included a ban on Russian coal in a new round of sanctions, but has so far avoided banning natural gas and oil.
The countries most dependent on Russian gas, however, differed significantly from those importing the largest amounts or highest percentages of the resource in recent years.
These are the 10 most dependent countries, according to the Eurostat website of the European Commission.
Some countries have a figure higher than 100 because they import more than necessary for their domestic consumption and export other energy products.
Of particular interest is Hungary, the country most individually dependent on Russian gas. The country’s newly re-elected leader, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, has wavered between his EU colleagues and his longstanding relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Although it has backed EU sanctions against Russia, Hungary opposed the bloc on Wednesday, when Orbán said the country would pay for gas deliveries in rubles if asked by Russia. in response to a question from Reuters.
This statement responded to recent requests from Moscow asking foreign buyers to pay for Russian gas in rubles. The EU opposed these orders, leading a European Commission spokesperson to tell Reuters Friday that companies with contracts in euros or dollars “should not accede to Russian requirements”.
Another EU country heavily dependent on Russian gas, Slovakia, confirmed on Sunday that despite rumors to the contrary, it would act in unison with EU member states and continue to pay for gas only in euros.
“In this situation, unity is essential and we insist on compliance with contractual conditions and payments in euros,” said Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger. written in a Facebook post.
But Hungary’s Orbán, whose right-wing nationalist party won re-election just three days ago, not only described Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as one of his campaign “adversaries” during his victory speech, but also received congratulations from Putin, according to CNN.
On Wednesday, even as Orbán declared his country’s willingness to continue paying Moscow for gas in roubles, Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó echoed similar sentiments.
Szijjártó stressed that while Hungary “condemns military aggression” and “supports Ukraine’s sovereignty”, the country would prioritize the safety of the Hungarian people, in a Facebook post. translated by the government’s office of international communications.
“This is not our war so we want to stay out and we will stay out,” Szijjártó wrote. “So we will not deliver weapons and we will not vote for energy sanctions.”